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Dad of missing girl arrested for bad checks

HICKORY — The father of a missing 10-year-old disabled girl was arrested today on several charges unrelated to the girl’s disappearance, joining his wife who has been in custody for two weeks as investigators unsuccessfully searched wooded areas and a landfill.

Police believe Zahra Baker, who was reported missing Oct. 9, is dead. She uses hearing aids and has a prosthetic leg because of bone cancer.

Her father, Adam Baker, 33, is facing one count each of assault with a deadly weapon and failure to return rental property, two counts of communicating threats and five counts of writing worthless checks.

The timing of his arrest raises questions because the charges against him were filed over the past few months. Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins had said authorities delayed taking action because he was cooperating with police.

It was unclear if he was still cooperating. A telephone message left for Adkins was not immediately returned.

Baker, who is from Australia, was being held in a western North Carolina jail on $7,000 bond, Hickory police spokeswoman Libby Grigg said. It was not clear if he had an attorney.

The girl’s stepmother, Elisa Baker, is at the same jail, facing charges including obstruction of justice. Police said she admitted writing a bogus ransom note found at the scene of a fire in the family’s back yard the day Zahra was reported missing.

Police have said they think someone killed the girl, but they have not found her body and haven’t charged anyone with killing her. A three-day search of a nearby landfill last week failed to turn up any evidence.

Police had been looking for a mattress that belonged to Zahra that may have been disposed of in the days before her disappearance was reported.

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